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Satyagraha and ‘Nonviolence’: Gandhi in South Africa Satyagraha Sa tyagraha = Satya (truth) and Agraha (holding firmly to). Satyagraha - Not the same as - "passive resistance“

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Satyagraha and ‘Nonviolence’: Gandhi in South Africa

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Satyagraha and nonviolence gandhi in south africa l.jpg

Satyagraha and ‘Nonviolence’: Gandhi in South Africa


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Satyagraha

  • Satyagraha = Satya (truth) and Agraha (holding firmly to).

  • Satyagraha - Not the same as - "passive resistance“

  • “Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance”, in connection with it, so much so that even in English writing we often avoided it and used instead the word ‘satyagraha”


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Satyagraha

Satyagraha demands:

  • "Sat"

  • "Ahimsa"

  • "Tapasya"

  • Satyagraha literally means insistence on truth. This insistence arms the votary with matchless power.

  • The force to be so applied can never be physical.


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Principles for Satyagraha

  • Nonviolence (ahimsa)

  • Truth — this includes honesty, but goes beyond it to mean living fully in accord with and in devotion to that which is true

  • Non-stealing

  • Chastity— this includes sexual chastity, but also the subordination of other sensual desires to the primary devotion to truth

  • Non-possession (not the same as poverty)

  • Body-labor or bread-labor

  • Control of the palate

  • Fearlessness

  • Equal respect for all religions

  • Economic strategy such as boycotts (swadeshi)

  • Freedom from untouchability

    On another occasion, he listed seven rules as “essential for every Satyagrahi in India

  • must have a living faith in God

  • must believe in truth and non-violence and have faith in the inherent goodness of human nature which he expects to evoke by suffering in the satyagraha effort

  • must be leading a chaste life, and be willing to die or lose all his possessions

  • must be a habitual khadi wearer and spinner

  • must abstain from alcohol and other intoxicants

  • must willingly carry out all the rules of discipline that are issued

  • must obey the jail rules unless they are specially devised to hurt his self respect


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How does satyagraha differ from other forms of nonviolent resistance?

  • In traditional violent and nonviolent conflict, the goal is to defeat the opponent or frustrate the opponent’s objectives, or to meet one’s own objectives despite the efforts of the opponent to obstruct these. In satyagraha, by contrast, these are not the goals. “

  • Success is defined as cooperating with the opponent to meet a just end that the opponent is unwittingly obstructing

  • Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong

  • It admits of no violence under any circumstance whatsoever

  • Insists upon truth.

  • Gandhi contrasted satyagraha with other forms of non violent resistance which he believed were based on an appeal to narrow self interest and which failed to reach out the opponent


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How effective is self-sacrifice in nonviolent resistance

  • non-violence = absence of militancy ?

  • indomitable spirit of the community

  • readiness to layone's life on the line

  • Physical suffering is not just borne andovercome but actually welcomed and celebrated by the community.

  • Fear of the ‘Other’,the ‘Enemy’.


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How effective is self-sacrifice in nonviolent resistance

  • We can see Ghandi non violence provided a potent means for legitimate and effective form of resistance within the new political order. Under Ghandian leadership the downtrodden were able to advance their cause by adopting position of superior morality that of non violence


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Satyagraha - primarily a western technique that was Indianised ?

  • significantly influenced by the writings of the Russian philosopher Tolstoy

  • Gandhi was inspired by the campaigns of passive resistance waged by the Hungarian nationalist against the Hapsburg between 1849 and 1867

  • It is not based on brute force or hatred.

  • It does not aim at destroying the tyrant. It is a movement of self-purification. it therefore seeks to convert the tyrant.

  • Although non-co-operation is one of the main weapons in the armoury of Satyagraha, it should not be forgotten that it is after all only a means to secure the co-operation of the opponent consistently with truth and justice..


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Satyagraha - primarily a western technique that was Indianised ?

  • It was based in part on the forms of civil resistance that had been developed in Europe, the United states and India, in part on his own strong moral principles, and in part through a dialogue with various modes of moral protest and mass resistance already practised in India


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Satyagraha in South Africa


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What aspects of the society and culture of South Africa were particularly important in the formation of Gandhi’s idea of satyagraha?

  • Jonathan Hyslop: Argued

    • Socio political context of Indians in Johannesburg was strikingly different that any where-else

    • Oppressive context of South Africa that Gandhi blossomed in a way he would probably not have, had he stayed in India

    • Migration had ripped up people from their context and juxtaposed them in a dramatic way

    • All faced common problems


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  • Although Gandhi was creating nationalism, it was one linked to a humanistic universalism

  • It was apparently oppressive context of south Africa that Gandhi blossomed in a way he would probably not have, had he stayed in India


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Satyagraha - Conclusion

  • politicaland moral.

  • more important that the action be carried out on the highestmoral plane.

  • Means and ends canbe on the same plane, e.g. political means and political ends.But for Gandhiji, the political ends were grounded in moralmeans.

  • This is the grounding of each and every action.


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